South Pasadena, Los Angeles County
Los Angeles area, Los Angeles County region
South Pasadena Public Library
The South Pasadena library is a unique combination of its earlier and later forms, with little to be seen of the original Classical Revival Carnegie. That building was expanded in 1916, with the aid of Carnegie funds, and in 1930 remodeled in Mediterranean Revival style with classic elements, without Carnegie funding. There is also a 1981 addition. With its 1930 face to El Centro Street and its 1981 face to the parallel Oxley Street, the library occupies a landscaped city block between Fairview Avenue and Diamond Avenue. It is the 1930 section of the building, now a community meeting place, that was made a South Pasadena Cultural Heritage Landmark in 1972.
South Pasadena's early libraries, an 1876 literary society and its successors, came under city auspices in about 1895. A 1906 Carnegie grant of $10,000 was increased to $12,000 and the Classical Revival library with domed skylight was one of the few visited by Carnegie on his 1910 trip to California. An additional Carnegie grant of $6600 in 1916 provided more room. The 1930 remodeling, changing it to Mediterranean style, was by Norman Marsh, the original architect, and incorporated Merrell Gage sculpture framed in brick and depicting literary scenes, with a plaque in the frieze above each bearing the name of a California literary figure. Back-to-back to the 1930 building, the 1981 building replicates its elements in a spare and modern configuration.